The United Kingdom has scheduled the transfer of the first batch of asylum seekers to Rwanda in the coming days amid criticisms from refugee rights organizations and activists.
According to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the UK government had informed the 50 asylum seekers about their travel to Rwanda. and gave them 7 to 14 days to file an objection.
The UK set a deal with the government of Rwanda to transfer illegal migrants from France arriving in small boats across the English Channel last month. The agreement said the UK would pay Rwanda £120 million ($156m) plus flight and lodging costs.
The UK and Rwanda said that the agreement would solve migration problems and human trafficking.
On April 14, the United Nations Refugee Agency opposed the plan to transport asylum seekers. Gillian Triggs, UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, said asylum seekers must not be traded like commodities.
“Such arrangements simply shift asylum responsibilities, evade international obligations, and are contrary to the letter and spirit of the Refugee Convention,” said Triggs.
The UNHCR said that although Rwanda had generously accepted the transfer of asylum seekers, most of those arriving in the country would still live in camps with fewer economic opportunities. The refugee organization added that wealthier nations must host refugees and not send them away.
Reports showed that more than 28,000 migrants have sought asylum in the UK from Europe in 2021. In November, 27 died in the English Channel while reaching the UK.
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